The body of the spotted sand bass is moderately elongate and compressed. The mouth is large and the jaw protrudes only slightly. The color is olive brown with round black spots on the body, head and fins. Spotted sand bass can be easily distinguished from kelp bass by the height of the third dorsal spine. In spotted sand bass and barred sand bass it is the longest of the dorsal spines, while in the kelp bass the third, fourth and fifth spines are of about equal length. Spotted sand bass differ from barred sand bass by the presence of spots that cover the entire body.